Something to Pond-erPosted by Faith Barbuto
Every year, around this time kindergarteners get to experience spring in full bloom at the idyllic pond at the Audubon Nature Center. After a brief instruction, our intrepid scientists are armed with nets and get to scooping. Specimens of muck and pond slime are carefully sifted through looking for all forms of pond life. What surprises me most about this trip is that the haul is always quite unique. Highlights of this year’s ponding event included not one but two snake sightings, several frogs caught and one huge bullfrog tadpole. After, we returned all the bits of rotting leaves back to the pond for we know that each leaf could be the nursery for hundreds of baby amphibians. The day was completed by a hike around the trails where you can just smell the new plants budding and life starting afresh.
Caribbean Vacation? How about Caribbean Conservation!Posted by Craig Knebel
Twenty-four 7th and 8th grade students traveled over spring break with Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Knebel and our Spanish teachers, Ms. DeAngelis and Ms. Fernandez, to work and vacation with the Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies or Fundemar in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic. As Ecotourists, our students learned about and worked towards coral reef restoration and marine mammal conservation. As global citizens, our students met community members affected by the loss of the reef and learned how to make crafts and projects to help rid the reef of invasive species. They snorkeled in bleached out and not bleached out reefs to compare the levels of biodiversity – the difference was striking. Other highlights included a cultural exchange with Dominican youth, visiting the six hundred year old first capital of the the Americas and exploring underground limestone aquifers. Oh yes, practicing speaking Spanish, beach time, bargaining in souvenir shops and a whitewater raft trip were also on the itinerary.
Fourth Graders at the Science FairPosted by Carlene Gordon
At the onset, the words SCIENCE FAIR may spark feelings of excitement, frenzy, confusion, or even dread. This is a very daunting task we place before our fourth graders. “Choose a scientific topic, construct a central question and a hypothesis, create a demonstration or experiment to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis, research the science behind your topic, write a conclusion and, finally, present your findings to fellow students, teachers, family and friends.”
At Unquowa, fourth grade is the initiation year of our annual Science Fair. We take this task and break it down into steps. Weeks are spent at school and at home preparing students for the big day. As we progress, students gain the confidence of knowing how to approach a large assignment and how to organize their work within a timeline. Excitement and enthusiasm build as our fourth graders develop into knowledgeable scientists in their chosen field of study. The day of the Science Fair this year brought with it our newly polished, confident and accomplished fourth grade scientists. Congratulations to all on a job very well done!
First Grade Is Out Of This WorldPosted by Maureen Diallo
To extend our learning of the solar system, the first grade scientists traveled to the Discovery Museum to view the planetarium show The Little Star That Could. The class felt as though they traveled into outer space as the stars and planets surrounded them in the planetarium. The class recharged with snack and blasted off to the museum galleries to explore all of the exciting things at the Discovery Museum. Our trip was out of this world!
Food for ThoughtPosted by George Seferidis
Seventh-grade humanities class figuratively travels around the globe to delve into culture and current events. We learn about other peoples through literature, history, art, and film, but sometimes, we seek understanding through a somewhat unlikely curricular source–food. Food is a medium, a nourishing social art, which invites others to experience a culture through a language of flavors and a palate of aromas. We celebrate with food; we heal with food. Our students recognized this while reading I Lived on Butterfly Hill, a coming-of-age novel set in an allegorical depiction of Pinochet’s rise to power in Chile. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Celeste, lyrically revels in the power of food. Of her grandmother’s journey to Chile as a WWII refugee, she learns, “Abuela suffers from an illness called nostalgia, which is often cured with a sprinkle of love, some lemon, a few raisins, and many slices of avocado.” The contrast of flavors and textures triggers sensations, awakens memory, alerts us to the present, and quite literally keeps us full.
As Celeste matures in her own journey as a refugee in Maine, she finds the strength to persevere through writing, reading, and preparing the comfort food of her culture, sharing them with her newfound friends. Celeste shares the food of her culture as both a celebration of difference and connection. Following Celeste’s example, seventh-graders collaborated with our kitchen staff to research and design the school’s lunch menu last Friday, sharing the knowledge during this unit. Chef David and Chef Jessica, always open to student collaboration in the kitchen, visited our humanities class sharing items and culinary knowledge with our seventh-graders. Each seventh-grader presented a salad, main dish, soup, side, and dessert, sharing their research and rationale. Our chefs selected recipes from student presentations and prepared them for our school lunch. Before we ate, seventh-graders introduced the meal to their peers and faculty. We were impressed with our student appetites for knowledge and understanding. Their presentations were emblematic of their appreciation of the novel and the history of Chile. We learned that food is a universal element that blurs the borders that we create between cultures.
Just Don’t Call it Dirt!Posted by Carlene Gordon
Our third and fourth grade scientists discovered that fall is a great time to visit the Audubon! On a recent crisp and sunny autumn day, we took the short trip together for a day of outdoor learning and fun.
Third graders focused on studying soils and the vital role soil plays in all life forms. Our young scientists were equipped with electronic soil temperature probes, soil samplers, soil color and insect guides and spoons to gentle move small amounts of decaying matter. Through the hour plus long trek through the trails of the Audubon, students stopped at a meadow, a woodland and a marsh to gather soil temperatures, color samples and life forms in the soil. Students carefully measured and recorded at each stop.
In the meantime, fourth graders investigated rocks and minerals. The visit began with students analyzing various properties of rocks. Students were presented with kits to test rocks for hardness, color, luster, and streak and given instructions in how to measure each. Afterward, students were lead by an educator through the trails surrounding the Audubon. There, students were able to apply the skills they learned to the real world around them. Students discovered many samples of gneiss, schist and examined signs of weathering and erosion.
After the hike, students gathered inside the Audubon to perform further investigations on various rocks, minerals and soils. The trip wrapped up with students drawing conclusions from all the data collected on the hikes.
We extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to the wonderful educators at the Audubon!